homemade wine and beer and such

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 - 7:53am

Cross-posted to the General Questions forum

After we harvested the muscaine grapes and made grape juice--we just water-bath canned it in quart jars--it is time to turn to this year's pear harvest. We did not get many grapes from the new muscadine vines but the tree is so covered with pears we cannot can them all or eat what we can in time. In a famine situation turning all of those hard farm pears into food would be essential, but we are considering turning some of them into pear wine as an experiment. After all, if the SHTF you won't be able to drive down to the package store/liquor store/wine mart and just restock your supply. Wine will make a great barter item, too. And if the wine making fails? We can always use vinegar to pickle things.

So this weekend I visited our local homebrow shop, run  by a guy who's been doing this for 32 years. Here is his recipe for how to make wine from local SC grapes, and he gave me a sheet with instructions to make pear wine. I told him I was a frugal Scott by nature, and wanted the cheapest way to make wine from the free fruit. And here is what I learned about the process.

It takes an awful lot of fruit to make wine! That's okay, since we have a lot of pears and we can get bushels of more muscadine grapes from the family farm where we do our range practice. Crushing grapes, straining the resultant mess, and clarifying the actual wine take equipment and chemials. You can start brewing it in five-gallon food-safe buckets but it must finish in something called a carboy or in a wooden cask (VERY expensive casks). Wine has to be bottled withing a certain amount of time from when it is done or it will go bad.You never pour wine while it is fermenting; you siphon it or you will damage it. It takes a lot of sugar to make wine - not to make it sweet, but to feed the yeast. And you can save wine bottles, wash them out, and reuse them - just use fresh corks.

My husband is interested in making his own whiskey to drink, too, and--if the SHTF--as an anesthetic and disinfectant or as a barter item. As long as it is for our own personal use there is no worry of running afoul of the "revenuers." But making wine or whiskey (or beer if you prefere it) requires an ivestment in things like siphoning tubes, carboys, yeast, a machine to pressure-cork the bottles, and distilling needs even more equipment. We will share how far we go along this road and you can lean along with us.

Or if you want to try home brewing right away, you can contact the place I visited since they know more than I do. Their email address at the bottom of Liquid Hobby's website. The owner is all kinds of helpful and knows his stuff, and the advice is free.

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